Nurses in Wales could strike over 'pitiful' and 'insulting' pay rise

Nurses in Wales could go on strike over the Welsh Government's pay rise for NHS staff.

Doctors, consultants, GPs and nurses in Wales are between 4% and 5.5% while other NHS workers will get an average of 7.5%.

The pay rises are below the 9.4% rate of inflation and the Royal College of Nursing Wales (RCN) branded the NHS pay award in Wales ‘pitiful and insulting’.

According to the RCN, there are at least 1,719 nurse vacancies in Wales and the £133.4 million the Welsh Government spent on agency nursing and midwifery last during the last financial year would pay the salaries of 5,119 newly qualified nurses.

Nursing staff across Wales have now been called to action by their union.

There are at least 1,719 registered nurse vacancies in the Welsh NHS

In a joint email to all RCN Wales members, the director of RCN Wales and the RCN Wales Board Chair said: "Today the Welsh Government confirmed its pay award for NHS staff in Wales for the year 2022-23.

"This is yet another pay cut in real terms and we’re clear that nursing deserves better.”

"Tonight, an emergency session of your elected Council voted that members in Wales will be balloted on industrial action.”

“Today’s NHS pay deal will not recruit or retain the nursing staff our NHS desperatelyneeds. It does not recognise the skill and responsibility of the job you do. It will notkeep patients safe.”

“Members made it clear last year and many before that after years of underpaymentand staff shortages the fight for fair pay must continue.”

“We have made a ground-breaking decision to move directly to strike ballot onindustrial action, something that the college has never done before. This is truly asign of the times that we have no other option for the sake of our health careservices and our irreplaceable nursing work force in Wales.”

“The voice of Nursing will be essential to turning the tide on low pay.”

What is the position of other health staff?

The BMA's Dr David Bailey described the pay rise as a 'kick in the teeth' Credit: BMA

Dr David Bailey from the British Medical Association told ITV Cymru Wales: "We think t's a kick in the teeth for all health workers.

"We're saying less than half the inflationary rate in terms of a pay rise after some of the hardest years we've ever had."

What does the Welsh government say?

Health minister Eluned Morgan said: "We don't want to see industrial action, that would be problematic for us. But people have a right to strike.

"We would have liked to have gone further but we have not had any additional pay from the UK government to support these pay rises."

What are opposition parties saying?

The Welsh Conservatives' shadow finance minister Peter Fox said: "It’s taken the Labour Government till the end of the week to make up their minds on what to do – keeping our NHS workers in limbo, whilst Labour pick political fights with the UK Government.

"Whilst I welcome that NHS pay is being increased in line with the recommendations from the independent panel, the Labour Government has been guaranteed an additional £2.5 billion a year in their budgets.

"It’s a shame that the Welsh Government are choosing the wrong priorities such as wasting money on buying up farms, more politicians or stifling the Welsh economy with their road building freeze, instead of supporting our Welsh NHS.”

The Welsh government looks set to come under pressure both inside and outside the Senedd

Plaid Cymru Health and Care spokesperson Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: "Any pay award that is below inflation is a significant pay cut in real terms.

"This will be a bitter blow for healthcare workers who have shown so much dedication during such an unprecedented and challenging time.

"In addition to ensuring that salaries catch-up with today’s living costs, there also needed to be an uplift to make up for a decade and more of cuts.

"The Welsh Government have failed to do that in recent years and now, as the cost-of-living soars, it is our front-line workers who are bearing the brunt."